Thursday, August 23, 2007
Guess the Plot
Return to Empire
1. In World War III, the United States manages to lose Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam to . . . get this - Brazil. Fidel Castro is still dictator in Cuba, and the Philippines are completely under water. But Biff Duckwater plans to change all that.
2. The long voyage was over, and, finally, Alexander was able to return to his throne. But someone was ruling in his stead and claiming to be him, someone more like Alexander than Alexander! WTF?
3. A foundling child leaves his poor but honest foster parents to seek his fortune in the wider world. A seemingly chance encounter with a mysterious stranger, in reality the court magician to the deposed emperor, sets in motion a chain of events that leads our hero on a quest that, though filled with unspeakable dangers, promises a reward of unimaginable scope. Also: two more volumes.
4. 15-year-old Katie is heir to the throne of the Empire. When her father dies, she leaves Earth and warps to the Empire where she does battle with her cousin and with a villain known as . . . the Upstart. Also, an army of geeks.
5. In 2011 scientist Mark Jeffries creates a time machine to bring young Queen Victoria to modern London. But once she arrives, she refuses to quietly settle down with the handsome Mark, and instead tries to engineer a return to Empire for Britain.
6. Dress designers Aunt Tessie and Uncle Perry discover that their daughter, Antonia, is really the Queen of the ancient order of Faeries and their son, Guillaume, is the Staten Island Faerie. Also lesbians.
Katie is fifteen, outgoing and confident and, now that her father's been murdered, the heir to the throne of an empire. [Who was the heir before he was murdered?] Her father was overthrown by her cousin once removed. Katie tries to stay on Earth, where she grew up, but her cousin might destroy it to be rid of her. [Destroy the Earth? That's like burning down your house because there's a mosquito in your bedroom.] [Some 15-year-old girl's cousin has the ability to destroy the Earth? What exactly are his powers?] The safest course is for Katie, her mom, Brandon and Krystal use an elgon – a gray man who is one of the bodyguards of the Emperor - to warp themselves to the Empire. [You seem to think we know who Brandon and Krystal are.]
Katie finds she understands the Empire and its way of doing things far better than she understood Earth. [Where is this Empire?] She sets about building a coalition with which to take power. [She's the heir to the throne. Why doesn't she already have power?] But she is unlike other Emperors in waiting. She will not accept proskenesis, [If you're going to make me look something up in the dictionary, at least have the decency to spell it right.
Me: What's proskenesis?
Dictionary.com: There's no such word, perhaps you meant progenesis?
Me: How do I know? I didn't write it. Plus, I don't know what progenesis is, either.
Dic.com: It's precocious sexual reproduction in a trematode worm in which metacercariae or sometimes cercariae may lay eggs capable of repeating the life cycle.
Me: That could be it; what else you got?
Dic.com: How about pyrokenesis?
Me: I used to think I had a decent vocabulary.
Dic.com: It's the ability to set objects or people on fire through the concentration of psychic power.
Me: I don't think that's it . . . though I think the book would be better if it were.
Dic.com: Wait, I've spotted something in reference.com/encyclopedia. Proskynesis. Something about bowing down to people of higher rank. It's a Persian thing.
Me: Hmm. Nah, I don't think so. I'll go with the screwing worms.]
she is polite to slaves, [Excuse me. If you don't want to be whipped within an inch of your life, you'll clean out the horse stalls . . . please.] she treats the elgons as actual people, and she refuses to let her followers undertake military actions.
Katie learns her cousin is a puppet for even darker forces: the civilian slaughters of recent years had a hidden agenda of mind control. The Upstart is distracted by making clones of himself and killing them. [While that is one of the great sentences in query history, I don't know what it means or what it's doing there.] [You seem to think we know who the Upstart is.] She learns She discovers that the elgonen who protect her are her ancestors; former Emperors taken at the moment of death and put into this state. Katie is determined to save and then reform the Empire.
Fending off the Upstart's assassination attempts, she gathers the groups she needs. But when the Upstart kidnaps her to try to make her an elgon, Katie convinces the captain of the capital ship used to control the process to join her cause.
The geeks, commanded by her friend Brandon, [The geeks? Are they geeks?] blanket the area with messages that all taxes paid to the Upstart count for nothing and the same debt will remain to the true Emperor. [Is Katie the true emperor?] The groups who follow her, like food sellers, transport workers, war veterans and followers of the planet's Wiccans, both of whom have many types of jobs, give that section of the Empire its first taste of a general strike. [This is way too long. I can't believe anything in that paragraph is essential to the query.]
The empire sends a fleet and confronts Katie's ships. To stop them Katie has herself made into a living elgon. [The Upstart kidnaped her to make her an elgon; now she's doing it herself?] It's dangerous, but it allows her to phase through reality like they do. She and the elgonen enter her cousin's ships and disable their weapons. [I remember that part from a Star Trek.] Some ships defect to Katie and she gets about a fifth of the Empire under her rule: she can show what kind of Emperor she is.
Return to Empire is a YA SF novel complete at 60,000 words and I understand from your website you handle this type of work. My previous writing credits include seven books including [novel] and [novel]. I enclose the first three chapters as sample.
Thank you for your consideration, I look forward to hearing from you.
A villain who goes by "The Upstart" doesn't leave me quaking in my boots.
You're telling us too much of the plot. Your goal is to interest us in the book. Too much information is as bad as too little. Try limiting yourself to ten sentences. It'll help you see what's necessary and what you can cut. And of course I don't mean ten sentences that list key events; ten sentences that take us logically through the one main story line.
Make it clear what being heir to the throne means. She doesn't seem to have the throne, and goes through hell just to get control of one fifth of the Empire.